It’s long past the time when police officers are removed from schools. They do more harm than good.
“Abundant research shows that having cops in schools does nothing to reduce crime,” Nation magazine reported. “Instead, police create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation resulting in the criminalization of young people of color.”
The New York Times estimated that more than 17,000 police officers are posted in schools. Twenty-eight percent of all schools have armed security officers.
Ever since the Columbine, Colorado, school massacre in 1999, armed police in schools became commonplace. But the real problems in schools–bullying, mental illness and the widespread availability of guns–have been scantily dealt with.
The Nation continued: ”Schools with high percentages of black and Latino students are more likely to have zero-tolerance policies resulting in more suspensions, expulsions and arrests. Even more disturbing, school police are using a high level of physical force.”
One of many terrible examples: a white police officer, Ben Field, slammed a 16-year-old black student to the floor in her South Carolina classroom in October, breaking her arm. Fields faces a federal lawsuit accusing him of “recklessly targeting African-American students.”
Another case: a 17-year-old student in Texas in 2014 was Tasered by a “school resource officer” (SRO) while the youth was trying to break up a school fight. The student was critically injured in the Taser fall and subsequent blow from the SRO. The kid spent 52 days in a coma. A surveillance video showed he was actually stepping away from the SRO.
Another example of many similar SRO abuses: 14-year-old, Derek Lopez, was shot to death in 2014 by an SRO in San Antonio, Texas, after he punched a student on school grounds. Officer Daniel Alvarado ordered the boy to freeze, chased him to a shed and killed him.
The Houston Chronicle reported that in the last four years Houston-area school districts reported 1,300 cases of SRO use of force.
Argument proved. As the Supreme Court ruled in Tinker v. Des Moines (1969), students do not “shed their constitutional rights at the school house gate.”
Yet the Obama administration has called for an additional $15 million to add 1,000 more school resource officers. Moreover, the administration wants the Justice Department to develop “a model of the best practices” for using SROs.
There never will be a model SRO practice. The worst practices are already evident. Police simply don’t belong in schools.
DON’T DONATE TO FAT CATS
The very names prompt tender feelings about Christmas donations: United Nations Children’s Fund, The American Red Cross, the March of Dimes and Goodwill. But think again before you donate to them at yuletide or any tide.
Marsha Evans, Red Cross CEO, makes $650,000 in yearly salary plus expenses. The March of Dimes gives away just 10 cents of every charitable dollar received. Caryl Stern, the CEO of UNICEF, reaps $1.2 million a year plus expenses and a Rolls Royce. Less than five cents a dollar goes to charity. Goodwill owner and CEO Mark Curran bags $2.3 million a year for good items given free to Goodwill. The president of United Way nabs $375,000 a year along with numerous expense benefits.
These staggering figures come from a highly reliable source: James Spangler, public watchdog extraordinaire who monitors charities. Spangler recommends giving to Salvation Army and Doctors Without Borders as the best charitable organizations because most of the donations to them actually reach the needy.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)